Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Top Ten (Actually Nine) Records 2011

Nils Frahm, Felt
So much music sounds like it was made in and emitted from an empty black box, with everything flawed stripped out - but this is something else entirely. It's truly one of the most beautiful pieces of recorded art, a living breathing thing that evokes place, time, instrument and artist equally. I suggest headphones on a quiet night - and turn it up. 
James Blake, James Blake
A sonically pleasing, subtly kaleidoscopic record that perfectly marries Blake's old soul vocals to newer forms of musical expression. His voice is particularly striking to hear live, but the record still captures its emotional power. The bass makes for several exceptional music-moments as well. Some music sounds good for a couple months, then the freshness wears right off, but this record has sexy slow burn staying power.
Loscil, Coast/Range/Arc
After seeing too many shows where a white guy fiddles with an apple laptop placed atop a metal-legged table wearing a white catering apron (the table not the artist), I'd temporarily sworn off anything "electronic" or even ambient, but this record brought me right back into the fold. This is a grand unfolding ode to the slower, deeper rhythms of landscapes. Best listened to from start to finish, and very loud.
Benoit Honore Pioulard Plays Thelma
Like seeing a flashing light in a grassy field, and finding that it's a shard of broken mirror reflecting the sun.
Beirut, The Riptide
Zach Condon has created a near-perfect marriage of his electronic indie pop and wild "world" music sides. His most personal record to date, it fills you with a truly inspiring sad-happy nostalgia.
Wolves in the Throne Room, Celestial Lineage
When this screaming witch man from Olympia starts up, you'll get the distinct feeling that black metal has something to offer, and that other artists might not be trying as hard as they could be to push the boundaries of music. In my mind, this record evokes opera more than any other genre of music, albeit a pagan opera conducted at midnight around an enormous burn pile in the woods.

Chad Vangaalen, Diaper Island
Such a strange, sad, angry, pretty collection of pop songs. And while I don't know where Diaper Island is located, I'm starting to get the feeling I might actually be living there.

Jacaszek, Glimmer
The perfect suicide-contemplation music, and everyone knows you have to have some of THAT in your collection. Poland rules.

Radiohead, The King of Limbs
Sure, I could use more string arrangements from the masterful Mister Greenwood, and yes, it's a long way from KID A, but, even a slightly slighter Radiohead record still kicks ASS.